Striking Chilean miners need solidarity!

Submitted by AWL on 13 August, 2009 - 10:22

103 miners from Tambillo, a small mining village in the region of Coquimbo in Chile, have been on official strike since May 1st. By the middle of August they had been out for over 100 days without pay in the longest strike in Chile since the restoration of democracy in 1990.

The pit is owned by one of the largest capitalists in Chile, Francisco Javier Errazuriz, a well known Pinochet supporter, anti-union right winger. As well as the Tambillo mine Errazuriz owns a chain of super markets called Unimarc and Errazuriz wines, which are sold worldwide. Miners are calling for a boycott of all of Errazuriz interests. Luis Robles the miners official spokesperson said:

"Errazuriz doesn´t know the miners whose work makes him rich. He never gives back to the community, to the school, or makes pension contributions. He just uses us for working in his mines and exploits the public infrastructure of Tambillo to transport his copper. It would be great to work in a mine controlled by the miners themselves."

Miners go on strike

The strike began following the failure of the annual pay negotiations in April. Errazuriz demanded that the Tamibillo miners accept a 35% pay cut. If the miners wanted to maintain their pay at its original level, then wages could be made up through bonuses, which if not reached would result in the sack.

The miners rejected the pay offer and held a mass meeting of all union members. Of 104 present 101 voted in favour of a strike from May 1st. Errazuriz responded by illegally withholding the miners April pay and bonus and sacking 50 non-union miners on the spot. Since then Errazuriz has refused to negotiate or meet with the strikers.

Police attack the strike

The strike is solid, but the miners are suffering constant police surveillance and harassment, which turned into a brutal assault, when the police moved to break up a peaceful protest outside the pit entrance in June. Miners, their families and children had gathered to support a 10 day hunger strike of three miners and two university students. Police used water cannons, baton charges and tear gas to break up the protest, chasing miners, their wives and children through Tambillo village on motor bikes.

The miners are actively supported by their wives who take part in the daily picket, organise welfare activities and publicise the strikers demands, even while they are struggling to provide food and bus fares for their children to attend school.

Errazuiz under arrest

The miners have successfully taken Errazuriz to court, where he was found guilty of breaching trade union law and ordered by the magistrate to pay the miners April pay and bonus in full and fined for his anti-union activities. Errazuriz was given three days to pay pending an order for his immediate arrest.


The miners of Tambillo, are determined to fight on until their ay cut is withdrawn and the pay claim met in full. A victory for them would be a victory for all workers, and particularly the most exploited miners in Chile´s copper industry. But the miners need the solidarity of all other workers world wide. They have no strike pay and are surviving on a very minimal income they are totally reliant on donations and collections from other workers in order to maintain their fight.

Any messages of support can be send to my email; the official spokesperson of the miners union and to the trade union blog

Send financial contribution to:

Bank account number: 0-017-04-51614-9

There is more information about the miners strike at the Tamibillo miners web page here.

And on these videos:

Fraternally yours
Luis Robles
Tambillo Copper Miners Union


Submitted by AWL on Wed, 26/08/2009 - 16:06

On the 18th August 2009 Chilean government works inspectors visited Tambillo mine with a company representative. The Tambillo miners have been on strike since May 1st – 110 days by late August – and have successfully sued the owner Francisco Javier Errázuriz for breeches over the Chilean labour law.

Errázuriz had illegally withheld a months wages and bonuses from the Tambillo miners, as well as sacking 50 non-union workers, ignoring health and safety legislation and instituting a regime of bullying at the pit.

According to the Labour Law, after Errázuriz lost the case in Court, he was required to pay the miners their April wages or go to jail. He has now done so, but he is also supposed to re-open the plant. According to the Labour Law, the miners have been guarantee to work safe for one month, at the moment they are waiting to come back to work on Thursday 27/08/09. After that the future it is very uncertain. There are rumours that the Chinese want to be part of the mining company.

Send messages of support to

The miners urgently need donations for details of a British bank account to speed transfers contact PR or send direct to:
Bank account number: 0-017-04-51614-9

Submitted by AWL on Sun, 06/09/2009 - 11:40

An update from the "Movement of the People and the Workers" (MPT), a new workers' party in Chile.

After more than four months in strike, the Tambillo miners have been unable to win a settlement that meets their demands; the bosses have refused to meet the union. The Labour Law in Chile was implemented by Pinochet; it is completely in favour of the bosses, nonetheless after much discussion the workers agreed to use Decree 369. This should mean that everything goes back to square one, to zero again. The workers should come to work; negotiations should start again from zero.

In accordance with this law, the workers presented themselves for work in the presence of government Industrial Tribunal inspectors, to write minutes and to verify if there is any problem. At this precise moment that I write this report the mine administration, is telling to the workers that 45 of them are going to be sacked (the “troublemakers”, among them of course is Luis Robles, the miners elected spokesperson.)

This is illegal. The law states that employers cannot sack workers under Decree 369. Secondly, as the owner of the mine it is a crook, he is offering to pay the termination of contract monies in 3 stages. The workers refused to accept these terms.

As this struggle is continuing, nobody is working, and there problems of contamination in the area as the result of the copper refinery process. Further actions will be proposed shortly we will let you know when we have further information.

Financial support it is much needed, the workers are without wages for months.



Bank account number: 0-017-04-51614-9


Please send donations to:

The Royal Bank of Scotland
127 - 128 High Holborn London WC1V 6PQ
Carlos Sanhueza
Sort code 16 00 37
Account number 14155899

Add new comment

This website uses cookies, you can find out more and set your preferences here.
By continuing to use this website, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions.